Officials describe neglect case the worst they have seen
Officials describe neglect case 'the worst they have seen'

South Australian child safety officials have revealed the neglect case involving the alleged starving of a four-year-old boy is one of the worst they have seen.

The boy had been living in squalid conditions, with piles of rubbish and soiled nappies, and a stench that could be smelled from the street.

His parents were arrested on Tuesday and charged with criminal neglect and failing to provide food.


It has sparked a review by Families SA into its handling of the case.

“To see if there is anything that we can learn from these quite disturbing circumstances in which the child was found,” David Waterford from the Office of Child Safety said.

In March last year, Families SA was alerted by neighbours concerned about the child’s welfare.

Mr Waterford said when officials inspected the home, they sighted the child and found him to be safe.

“Because a non-government agency was involved with the family it wasn’t seen as necessary for Families SA to continue any involvement at that point in time,” Mr Waterford said.

It is believed the four-year-old boy weighed just eight kilograms when he was found on Tuesday.

7News understands that when the boy arrived at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, his condition was so bad some of the medical staff treating him needed counselling.

Child safety expert Freda Briggs said a lack of communication was a factor.

“The departments responsible such as housing and Families SA and health don’t seem to communicate with each other and that leaves children vulnerable,” she said.

The boy is now under the guardianship of Families SA.

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